What makes scars vulnerable to the sun?
Fresh scars (still pink and healing) are highly vulnerable to UV and can easily burn. The combination of inflammation in the healing tissue and sun exposure can lead to post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH), causing the scar and surrounding skin to turn dark brown. This discoloration can last months or even years, so protection is important from the word go. It goes without saying that sun exposure without adequate protection carries the risk of skin cancer.
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Do I need to protect my scar from the sun?
During your scar’s first year or so, special care is definitely required. Before you head out of the house, make sure you protect your scar with a very high sun protection product (SPF50+ is ideal). Trying to tan skin to hide your scar is never a good idea and will most likely lead to a more marked appearance. Remember, all forms of skin injury (including tattoos!) can develop excessive pigmentation when exposed to the sun. No matter what the injury, your buzzword is protection.
What happens if my scar is brown or black?
If your scar has turned brown or black, sometimes with a dark “halo” around it, you probably have a hyperpigmented scar. This is usually due to sun exposure while the scar was still fresh and healing. Since this dark appearance can last years, some people turn to a dermatologist for in-office procedures (laser, depigmenting agents, surgical revision). All treatments will take time to work and they don’t come cheap, so the old adage “prevention is better than cure” is doubly relevant.